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Second place never felt so good.
For the first time in their 42-year history, the College Point Little League sent one of their teams to the New York State tournament. However, that doesn't even begin to tell the remarkable story of the 11-year-old summer team that finished second in the State, falling to Merrick Little League of Long Island, 5-0, in the championship game in Rochester, New York on Tuesday, August 8.
&#8220It makes me feel like we did something for our town,” said Nelson Santiago Jr., 11, a pitcher/first baseman/outfielder.
The tiny 300-player College Point Little League doesn't even have their own fields - they play at the New York Parks Department-owned College Point Sports Complex - and have just three regular season teams in the 10-11-year old age group. Accordingly, they play other Little Leagues during the spring.
The team was made up of just 10 players, including one girl, right-fielder and No. 8 hitter Julia Toth, and three left-handed infielders - a rarity at any level. &#8220It was something you'll remember for a long time,” Coach Nelson Santiago said of the District 26 and New York City Section 3 champions. &#8220We're very proud of the kids. It's a big accomplishment.”
College Point took two games from Bayside to win the District 26 title, then swept through three games of sectional play, overwhelming South Shore of Staten Island, 4-1, behind ace Adrian Castano's complete-game performance. In the city semifinals, they outlasted Ozone-Howard, 3-2, in extra innings on Toth's run-scoring hit.
&#8220Some teams asked if she was a girl and thought she would be an easy out, but she helped us get here,” said Santiago Jr., who tossed 4 1/3 innings of shutout relief in the second loss to Merrick.
In the state tournament, they went 2-2, losing twice to the Long Island team. After topping South Shore to earn College Point's first-ever city championship, Santiago said they were unsure if they would be able to make the trip; they lacked the funds necessary at the time to pay for hotel expenses, food and travel. But the league's treasury agreed to reimburse Santiago, who used his own money to rent five Toyota Tierra minivans.
&#8220It's a story in itself,” said Abe Miller, the acting District 26 administrator.


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